Editor's Note: This article was originally published in 2002. Eighteen years later, compare these tips to what we learned from JM when he was here at elitefts just a few months ago coaching Yessica Martinez's and Lily Starobin's bench.


So, for the impetuous among us here are my top tips to the big iron! These serve as a primer only and are only superficially explained. However, they should all stand up to the gauntlet of common sense and I’m sure that at least a few will be of use to you. Read on and “load the bar!”

1. Strengthen your triceps. Many lifters do very well or better in the bench press after pec tears that go un-repaired. Think about it!

2. Don’t do endless “other” pressing movements. It is way too easy to over train the chest and shoulders. Limit your workout to two exercises per body part. Remember: more is not better, only better is better!

3. Keep your elbows at no greater than 45 degrees away from the sides of your body when pressing. Nothing puts more stress on the anterior joint capsule and related structures than benching with your elbows straight out. Well maybe not nothing, but it’s got to be close to one of the worst habits you can get into.

4. Do some kind of rotator cuff work. A more stable shoulder joint always pays off in probable protection from injury and by limiting the loss of power transfer from the chest to the arms. Tight is right!

5. Simplify your program. I don’t know you. I don’t know what you do. But I’ll bet your program is too complicated. Do less…better. Put all your energy into totally mastering a few things rather than making almost un-noticeable headway in many things. Keep it simple and show real, tangible progress in only one thing. This allows you to put all your energy in a concentrated area.

Once you’ve seen substantial gains, move the focus to another aspect. One thing at a time you see growth. After a while, you will have it covered! I know this sounds like the whole “it takes time thing” again but really, like a great wine or a fine cigar, some things will not be rushed!

WATCH: JM Blakley Shares His Secrets on Bench Press Form

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